Beckenham

2015 Result:
Conservative: 27955 (57.3%)
Labour: 9484 (19.4%)
Lib Dem: 3378 (6.9%)
Green: 1878 (3.8%)
UKIP: 6108 (12.5%)
MAJORITY: 18471 (37.8%)

Category: Ultra-safe Conservative seat

Geography: Greater London. Part of the Bromley council area.

Main population centres: Beckenham, Hayes, West Wickham, Shortlands, Coney Hall, Keston, Bromley Common.

Profile: A swathe of affluent, leafy, middle-class Bromley suburbia.

Politics: This is a solidly Conservative seat, the second strongest in London and with a 2015 majority of well over thirty percent. The only time it has been remotely vulnerable was the 1997 by-election, caused by the resignation of then MP Piers Merchant after being caught having a romantic liasion with a 17 year old girl in a public park.


Current MP
BOB STEWART (Conservative) Born 1949. Educated at Chigwell School and RMA Sandhurst. Former army colonel. First elected as MP for Beckenham in 2010. He commanded the Cheshire Regiment in Northern Ireland, and was the commanding officer of UN forces in Bosnia from 1992-1993.
Past Results
2010
Con: 27597 (58%)
Lab: 6893 (14%)
LDem: 9813 (21%)
UKIP: 1551 (3%)
Oth: 1832 (4%)
MAJ: 17784 (37%)
2005*
Con: 22183 (45%)
Lab: 13782 (28%)
LDem: 10862 (22%)
UKIP: 1301 (3%)
Oth: 836 (2%)
MAJ: 8401 (17%)
2001
Con: 20618 (45%)
Lab: 15659 (34%)
LDem: 7308 (16%)
GRN: 961 (2%)
Oth: 1016 (2%)
MAJ: 4959 (11%)
1997
Con: 23084 (42%)
Lab: 18131 (33%)
LDem: 9858 (18%)
Oth: 1614 (3%)
MAJ: 4953 (9%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005

Demographics
2015 Candidates
BOB STEWART (Conservative) See above.
MARINA AHMAD (Labour)
ANUJA PRASHAR (Liberal Democrat)
ROB BRYANT (UKIP)
RUTH FABRICANT (Green) Retired teacher.
Links
Comments - 28 Responses on “Beckenham”
  1. Am happy to be the first to post on my home seat.

    Good MP that he is, I would not be at all surprised to see Bob Stewart stand down after just one term – in fact there have long been rumours locally that he will do so. He has never hidden his disappointment with parliamentary life and with the Cameron leadership, with which he is constantly clashing. His latest criticisms that the MOD leadership “must be smoking dope” can be seen in this light; in addition he has been rightly scathing about the government closing down most of Lewisham hospital in direct contradiction of Cameron’s airbrushed poster promise to “cut the deficit not the NHS”.

    Stewart will be 66 in 2015 and 71 by 2020 so age may also be a factor.

  2. Stewart is actually slightly older than Piers Merchant who was MP for the seat from 1992 to 1997, although Merchant (who defected to UKIP later on and briefly appeared on the 2005 election show) sadly died from cancer a couple of years ago.

    According to the notional results the Tory vote was down by 1.8 percentage points in 2010 although I think that’s unlikely and the calculations weren’t quite right. The notional result was Con 59.7%, Lab 19.3%, LD 16.1%, UKIP 2.8%, Others 2.0%.

  3. I may be a Labour lad, but it would be a shame to see Stewart go. I’m abit of a military history nerd, and I’m well aware of his commendable service in the Bosnian War. And when I’ve seen him on TV, he often has very smart things to say, and I always like an MP that isn’t always willing to toe the leader’s line.

    I was still rather surprised he became an MP. I would have thought Major’s (what I perceive to be) sloppy handling of the Bosnian War would have put him off politics before the start. Or maybe he thought that was exactly a reason for him to get involved. In anycase, would be a shame to see him stand down.

    Get him to stay, H.H. Tell him a Labour guy in Reading wants him to.

  4. yeah that’ll be bound to swing it.

  5. Will see what I can do, Van Fleet 🙂 Although we are moving house in a couple of months so won’t be voting here either in 2014 or 2015.

    BBC London news were interviewing some disgruntled Tories at a Beckenham garden party yesterday, including constituency chairman Cllr Peter Dean.

  6. Paul Tew is the UKIP candidate for Beckenham:

    http://libertarianhome.co.uk/2013/12/paul-tew-to-run-on-ukip-ticket/

  7. Bob Stewart has been reselected for Beckenham according to this article:

    http://www.newsshopper.co.uk/news/11390811.London_Mayor_Boris_Johnson_to_stand_for_Parliament___but_not_in_Bromley/

    There were rumours at one point that he wasn’t enjoying the job and might think about standing down.

  8. Anuja Punj Prashar @AnujaPrashar · 3h3 hours ago

    Proud to be selected Lib Dem PPC for Beckenham & really thrilled to be back with Bromley Lib Dems!

  9. Con hold 17,000 (very tight ukip 2nd)

  10. Conservative Hold. 17,000 maj. Labour 2nd.

  11. Sir Philip Goodhart, who represented this constituency from 1957 to 1992, died earlier this week: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/11720720/Sir-Philip-Goodhart-politician-obituary.html

  12. It’s an excellent obituary except for one major error – unusually for a “wet”, Sir Phillip was vehemently anti-EU, especially in his later years.

    He was a lovely man who still insisted on campaigning in Beckenham at elections decades after he stood down…something his successors Merchant and Lait never did. Shuffling around knocking on doors well into his 80s, he was recognised and greeted by a surprisingly enormous number of people for a London seat. His elderly driving was terrible, akin to being given a lift in a milk float, but he insisted on doing his bit, one of a dead generation of MPs who believed in duty to the party long after leaving parliament.

    He helped me campaign in a hopeless council ward in 2002 and sent me a very kind handwritten note afterwards which I will now treasure.

  13. there aren’t many hopeless council wards in Bromley – surely there’s only one?

  14. Hopeless for the Tories…there are still two (Penge & Cator and Crystal Palace). In 2002 the Cray Valley wards were also considered hopeless, before the WWC abandoned Labour.

  15. Labour has reselected Marina Ahmad for GE 2017.

  16. The former MP for this seat, Sir Philip Goodhart, was the father of the writer David Goodhart, who has been a Labour member in the past, but has now left the party. His appointment to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission this week seems to have upset many on the left. His maternal uncle was a US Republican Governor for New Hampshire and Ambassador to the UK. Philip’s father (and David’s grandfather) Arthur Lehman Goodhart was a prominent Oxford professor from America. Quite a significant family.

  17. Pedant alert here, but Sir Philip’s seat was very different to this one, with pretty much only the town itself in common with current boundaries (hence the unchanged name). In Sir Philip’s day the Beckenham seat included about half of what is now Lewisham West & Penge, and excluded the Tories’ best wards in the current seat around West Wickham, Hayes and Bromley Common. I’m pretty sure Beckenham would be a Labour seat today on the boundaries of Sir Philip’s seat, probably since 2015, and certainly in the 2017 and 2019 elections.

    Sir Philip’s other brother Charles is arguably a more eminent academic than David, he even has a famous law of economics named after him “Goodhart’s law”, perhaps I am biased having been taught by him at LSE, he’s still alive and well aged 84. As your comment well illustrates Trade Mark, the Goodharts were a “liberal elite” dynasty typical of the upper class of the early/mid 20th century, and it’s hard to imagine any of them becoming Tory MPs today. I knew Sir Philip a bit in his old age, he was a kind, paternalistic and small-l liberal man but, in contrast to all his other One Nation instincts, he was fiercely anti-European even when it was not fashionable in the Tory party (ironically this was one reason Thatcher took a dislike to him early in her leadership).

  18. I mentioned Philip as his death was commented upon earlier in this thread. But thanks for the info.

    I was actually reading about Charles too last night. He was an economic adviser to the first Wilson government which suggests he leant in that direction economically. It doesn’t surprise me that the family are more liberal. I’m a great admirer of David’s – it’s interesting that someone with a Tory MP father ended up joining Labour, but David’s own politics appear to be left-wing on economics, but more socially conservative. That’s a niche which Labour now struggle with. Thanks for sharing your memories of Philip.

    Kenneth Baker’s son has also been active in Labour, but again, I sense that Baker was more of a liberal Tory.

  19. Baker used to be a member of the Labour Party and was a patron of the Tory Reform Group throughout his parliamentary career

    He was one of a handful – but by far the most prominent – of one nation MPs who were personally loyal to Thatcher

    Tom King and Andrew Bowden were two others

  20. I didn’t know that about Baker, but it doesn’t surprise me. He came across quite well on the Thatcher series shown last year (and repeated recently).

    Helen Grant and Rehman Chishti are both current Tory MPs who were previously Labour members. Can’t think of any others off the top of my head. In the last parliament there was also Rory Stewart.

  21. Gary Streeter and the phenomenally incompetent Chris Grayling used to be in the SDP

    And Lee Anderson – Mp for Ashfield – used to be a Labour councillor up until 2019 and left to fulfil a personal vendetta

  22. Oh yes, I forgot about Lee.

    If we’re getting into other parties, Liz Truss was a Lib Dem apparently. Rosie Cooper was also in the SDP.

  23. “He was one of a handful – but by far the most prominent – of one nation MPs who were personally loyal to Thatcher

    Tom King and Andrew Bowden were two others”

    In fairness there were many more than a handful in that category, at least earlier on, though they dwindled right down after Bruges and the poll tax.

    Whitelaw was surely the most prominent.

  24. “Gary Streeter and the phenomenally incompetent Chris Grayling used to be in the SDP”

    Soubry also (though not an MP or a Tory any more).

  25. I used to work with Sir Philip’s niece in the Civil Service. I’m not sure who her father was. It might have been William, who stood as a Liberal (I don’t think the LDs had been formed by then) candidate in the Kensington by-election in 1988, though I seem to remember her saying he was her uncle too. Her mother was quite a prominent magistrate at Balham Youth Court. Lovely lady, but sadly she suffered badly from multiple sclerosis. I lost touch with her when she moved to the Cabinet Office.

    HH, I think Beckenham was expanded at first, without moving any wards to Lewisham, wasn’t it? The Conservatives only held on by about 5000 votes when Robert Waller had reported a notional majority of 25000 in his last Almanac of British Politics. Then they only held on by 1000 votes in the by-election after Piers Merchant was forced to resign.

    Do you know why Penge and Cator is so strongly Labour? I know it contains Penge, but the old Penge Ward was very small, only covering the streets between Croydon Road, Maple Road, Penge High Street and Anerley Hill. When my uncle lived in Kent House Road (he died in 1998), it came under Lawrie Park (the part of Sydenham in Bromley) and Kent House Ward, which was safely Conservative. Is it just demographic change in those areas which has made it go Labour?

  26. “HH, I think Beckenham was expanded at first, without moving any wards to Lewisham, wasn’t it? The Conservatives only held on by about 5000 votes when Robert Waller had reported a notional majority of 25000 in his last Almanac of British Politics. Then they only held on by 1000 votes in the by-election after Piers Merchant was forced to resign.”

    Correct yes. They were the 1997-2010 boundaries, in which West Wickham was added in from the abolished Ravensbourne seat. From 2010 the three north-westernmost wards went into Lewisham West & Penge, replaced with Hayes, Coney Hall, Bromley Common and Keston from Bromley & Chislehurst (all very strongly Conservative).

    “Do you know why Penge and Cator is so strongly Labour? I know it contains Penge, but the old Penge Ward was very small, only covering the streets between Croydon Road, Maple Road, Penge High Street and Anerley Hill. When my uncle lived in Kent House Road (he died in 1998), it came under Lawrie Park (the part of Sydenham in Bromley) and Kent House Ward, which was safely Conservative. Is it just demographic change in those areas which has made it go Labour?”

    I have the honour of being the first Conservative candidate to stand in Penge & Cator on current boundaries, in 2002 (alongside two others of course). I only lost by about 300 so it wasn’t that safe for Labour back then. Since then it’s become super-safe Labour, partly demographic change, partly the collapse of the Lib Dems, and partly the general dislike of Tories in London which has sharply accelerated since the Brexit vote.

    Lawrie Park & Kent House was safeish Conservative up to the 1980s but was only held by wafer thin majorities in 1994 and 1998. In 1998 the Tories only got about 37% of the vote and scraped a win with a majority of about 30 votes. It was a near 3-way split with strong Lib Dems and also continuity Liberals standing. So by the 90s that area was no longer safely Tory and almost certainly voted Labour in General Elections from 1997 onwards.

    Note that only about 60% of LP&KH ward went into Penge & Cator, not necessarily the most Tory roads either, which arguably went into Clock House ward (which the Tories held in 2006 and 2010 I believe). About 20% of LP&KH went into Crystal Palace ward.

  27. Penge and Cator is a ward where the two parts feel nothing like each other whatsoever. The Cator part of the Penge and Cator ward, essentially the area north of the train line passing through Kent House station, makes up probably more than half of the ward geographically. However, it’s got a lot of green space and the roads are typically wide and full of large family homes (many detached). Therefore the number of electors here will actually be quite small relative to the Penge part of the ward which gives the ward an easily Labour hold.

    There will be some sticky Conservative support in Cator, but given they don’t even get 20% in the ward as a whole these days, it must have ebbed away here as well over the years (for the reasons above).

    Although most of Cator is in Beckenham, it’s surprising how close to the main street of Sydenham it gets (particularly along Cator Road and Woodbastwick Road), just a few minutes walk compared to Beckenham High Street (a couple of miles away).

  28. A fair number of the “large family homes” have been converted into flats.

    And the state schools closest to Penge and North Beckenham are pretty crap, being essentially muddied into Lewisham as you say. So you can take your chance at trying to get into the better state schools south of Beckenham, with a big chance of failure, send the kids to private schools, or move. That does significantly impede the demand for those “large family homes” amongst families with kids, however nice they are on Kings Hall Road etc.

    My personal observation is that there is an increasing “muesli belt” demographic of well-off left-leaning professionals in Cator, similar to the kind of people you find in Dulwich for example. Plus now that the ward is in a safe Labour seat and the Tories have a big majority on Bromley council, there is no reason for the Tories to work it any more.

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